September 2011 Archives

Welcome to the September 2011 edition of the Expressive Arts Carnival. This month's theme, see announcement, was to "create an image that incorporates your personal hopes and dreams."

Here are the entries in the order received.

Entry 1: Castorgirl

Castorgirl titled this piece 'Aspirations' and wrote: "I'm not sure why, but I found this activity really easy to do.  This, of course, makes me incredibly suspicious... did I not think it through properly... did I focus too much on the happy, cheery aspect of it all... did I do the exercise when so dissociated, that it will make no sense in an hour/day/week... That sort of self-doubt is the kind of thing that I hope to one day not live with so strongly.  My ultimate hope... to be able to look people in the eye, with a smile on my face, and without the need to dissociate in order to accomplish this.  Because, if I can do that, then I will have confidence and a sense of self-worth, and I won't be living under the cloud of shame that envelopes me and directs so many of my actions."

Entry 2: Algo4ME4Once

Algo4ME4Once titled this piece 'Bitterness taking Plight' and wrote: "It is in hopes once I am medically stabilized and further along in terms of developmental issues, that learning what I need to and reaching more milestones will allow me to finally get what need to from traumas, and not internalise so much. My dream right now is to just get to the next stage, where I can get angry at them, not me."

Entry 3: Releasing Lunacy

New contributor Releasing Lunacy wrote: "Hope is the cruelest of monsters. Hopes. Dreams. I no longer hope or dream. It only adds to the suffering. I pray for the health of my family. I pray I outlive my parents to save them the heartache of burying their first born. I pray my death is swift and I am a burden to no one. I do not entertain hopes or dreams in my heart or mind."

Entry 4: Kerro

Kerro wrote: "I have blogged on this theme too many times to count! It felt too tedious to recreate any of these posts or images here, so I did something slightly different.This is a photo I took on one of my travels. Travel continues to be one of my hopes and dreams, but that isn't the point. For me, the point is to remember that attaining my hopes and dreams as a pathway, a journey. It's not always easy; in fact sometimes it's downright difficult. But if I keep working at it, even one step at a time, then one day I'll (probably) get there." "

Entry 5: Paul

Paul (me) wrote: "So, my hope and dream is for my life to be more representative of this image. That there be collaboration. That parts support other parts. That on the macro scale it is one. But on the micro scale it is many. That each part is different yet has similarities to others. And so on."

Entry 6: Bay

Bay wrote: "Our hopes and dreams seem to be closely connected to loss. We dream for a friend, a partner, a family, a son or daughter and a comfortable relationship with our brother. And in expressing those dreams we realize how all but one seem like an impossibility and even that one seems so difficult."

Entry 7: Wantstorun

Wantstorun wrote: "In the future, I see myself as being more appreciative of my mind, rather than feeling tortured by it; I hope to have found my balance in a smooth, calm place.  I hope to have cleared my mind of some deadwood, so that I have more room for light, peace and happiness.  I want to be sweet, strong, protected, colorful and sharp, to feel like I am free to fly without being caught up from the times of the past."

Entry 8: Andréa

Andréa wrote: "Working on this gave me hope.  While I lived at home with the abuse, I always clung to the hope and knowledge that things would get better.  When I went to college, and was sexually assaulted by a pastor, that hope seemed to be ripped away from me.  This exercise helps me remember that hope, and how much it has helped me to survive."

That's all folks! Thanks to all those who contributed, especially those of you who are new. Thanks for taking a chance! If you think this Carnival is worthwhile, then let others know about it and we can continue to increase the contributors for future months.

The Expressive Arts Carnival was founded to to bring survivors together through expressive arts activities. On the Carnival's home page you can find links to all activity announcements and Carnival publications. Activities are posted on the first of every month and submissions are open for approximately 3 weeks. Please consider emailing to to be added to our anonymous mailing list for announcements and occasional discussions.


My Dream

| By Paul | | Comments (8)

This is the first photograph of mine that I posted here over 2 years ago. When pondering about what I would share as my "Hopes and Dreams" for this month's arts carnival, I thought about doing something new and creative. But this image captures the essence better than any other. So, I thought I would come back to it, but write about it in the present.

At the time I made this photograph, I was blossoming in terms of my commitment to external and internal awareness. Prior to this time, I had focused almost exclusively on intellectual understanding of my problems. And while that pursuit yielded good results, there was something missing and it was not enough. I quickly learned an important lesson: that the most healing comes from a balance between intellectual understanding and exploration on the one hand and emotional understanding and exploration on the other.

The context for this image is that "becoming one" or becoming "integrated" had dominated my thinking for many years. That was my clear goal—or hope or dream—for so long. I finally realized that, for me, that set up an unresolved series of internal tensions. Becoming "one," in a strict sense, is not who I am. It never was. So, I said to myself: "Why make a goal for myself something that is not who I am?"

Rather I see as a goal for me a fluid collaboration based on mutual respect and understanding. In this view, there is more flexibility. It creates the opportunity for various aspects of me to flourish and be laser-focused if they need to be or work together to accomplish what we cannot separately.

Having somewhat separate parts of my psyche is not at all the major problem facing me. It is having separate parts and that contributing to not being able to be safe that is the problem. Or having parts and having there be no communication or collaboration, thereby rendering them fully isolated. I cherish my ability to be able to accomplish goals in life that I know are borne from my compartment-based system; goals that I feel might not be possible without such a system.

So, the question for me has always been how to maintain safety and at the same time cultivate collaborations and communication leading to a more fluid existence? That is what this photograph represents. I had thought "becoming one" would automatically lead to safety and was the ultimate answer. But in many ways I believe that to be a draconian solution, and not even the best solution. I also thought it would someday just happen. After all, I have read stories of how others "integrated" and how it can happen very quickly.

The truth is, while I am not at all glorifying having more extreme forms of dissociation, I cannot not ever imagine a simple "become one" solution for me. The more and more I get to know parts of me, the more I appreciate who they are, what they represent, and appreciate their own individual hopes and dreams and hurts and desires.

This photograph can be seen as "one." It is one wall after all. But it is made up of many pieces. On one scale, all parts of me can be seen as one, and this is how most people in my life see me and this is what I want most people to see. It is absolutely true that together we make up one person. One system. But I also acknowledge that the parts of my psyche are not just aspects of one personality. They are more separate, and I accept that.

And it is through that acceptance that I have learned to move towards a more balanced existence.

In my post from over two years ago, I wrote:

This wall has been remarkably healing for me and it's an image I come back to time and time again. The wall has so many parts, some small, some large, but they each contribute to keeping the wall together and strong. This is how I've approached my own internal structure. This is when I realized that the goal is not to become one. The goal is not to be many either. The goal is to be both. This is when I realized what the saying "the whole is more than the sum of its parts" really means.

So, my hope and dream is for my life to be more representative of this image. That there be collaboration. That parts support other parts. That when viewed on a macro scale it appears as one. But on the micro scale it appears as many. That each part is different yet has similarities to others. And so on.


I know it has been a long time since I have been writing regularly here. I have been keeping regular entries in my journal, but this has always been the place where I try to "collect my thoughts," make a bit more sense, put the pieces together, and gain some perspective for myself.

So, I am glad to be back!

I have this gut feeling that I am on a bit more stable ground. And it does not take more than a few seconds to look back here and see that my sporadic posts over the past few months of summer have been mainly about having no traction and then finding some stability.

Back and forth it has gone... Super functional when needed. Sometimes collapsing. Some great accomplishments at work that sort of spoke to me "It's okay keep going like you are!" Great alliances with my kids accompanied by huge meltdowns. The same type of alliances with my wife and also large fights.

Sounds like the stuff of normal everyday life, right?

It would be, except for the fact that there have fairly often been complete breakdowns in safety. That is not acceptable anymore, but yet I have been handling these huge lapses in very old ways, by getting up, dusting myself off and moving on to the next item on my list.

I have been hoping the new school year for my kids would bring some much-needed structure back into my own life and help me slow the pace down. I do not really know how it happened, but the past year has been about taking on more and more; partly because I felt like I needed to, but also because I knew I could. My schedule has been so busy that I have not been able to have any consistent time for self-care. There has been only a bit of self-care here and there, but mostly everything else in my life has come first. As a result, those little bits have not been enough to keep me safe or allow me to feel like my life is under control.

There might as well be a giant red flag flapping in front of my face. And I have to wonder, "Is this your garden variety 'workaholic' mode meant to foster distraction and denial?"

I know, because I have done it many times before, that if I set limits for myself, practice more self-care, and do "less", that there are huge benefits. I can often be more productive in all facets of my life and be much happier and achieve more "wellness" as an added bonus.

We are now two weeks into the new school year, and nearly three months since the old school year ended, and only today does it truly feel like there is real settling. Real slowing.

Could it be that I have been on a three-month long roller coaster ride and it is now just coming to a halt? If so, what a waste. My hands weren't even up in the air!


Welcome to Activity No. 14 of the Expressive Arts Carnival for the month of September 2011. Thank you to all who participate and a special welcome if you are new!

This month's theme:

Through drawing, painting, or any other visual means, create an image that incorporates your personal hopes and dreams. You can do this any way you wish. Perhaps it will make it easier to consider a specific timeframe: 1 month, 1 year, 10 years. Or to focus on one specific area, if you are not a "big picture" kind of person. With your entry, please also include a couple of sentences saying what the process was like for you which will accompany your art.

Entries are due by Sunday, September 25, 2011 and will be published shortly thereafter.

You may also feel free to send me a link to a page hosted on your own site (or blog), if you have one. If you do not have a blog post specifically on your entry, and you do have a blog, please tell me if you would like a link to your blog in the carnival. It is important to repeat that nobody is required to have a website in order to participate.

To submit an entry use this link to e-mail:

Please use "EXPRESSIVE ARTS" in the subject heading to help me keep track of submissions. Every submission will receive an acknowledgement of receipt. If you do not receive one within a day or two, then please follow up with me.

The Expressive Arts Carnival was founded to to bring survivors of abuse together through expressive arts activities. On the Carnival's home page you can find links to all activity announcements and Carnival publications. Activities are posted at the beginning of every month and submissions are open for approximately 2-3 weeks. The Carnival will be posted shortly after submissions are closed.

If you have questions or need clarifications, direct them to me by e-mail or ask in the comments here.


About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from September 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

August 2011 is the previous archive.

October 2011 is the next archive.

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